After deadly shooting, IDF seals off hometown of Har Adar terrorist

Troops deployed to area around settlement where a Palestinian shot dead 3 security officers; PM says gunman’s home will be demolished

Judah Ari Gross is The Times of Israel's religions and Diaspora affairs correspondent.

IDF soldiers impose a closure on the Palestinian village of Bayt Surik after a resident carried out a terror attack at a nearby Israeli settlement in which three people were killed on September 26, 2017. (Israel Defense Forces)
IDF soldiers impose a closure on the Palestinian village of Bayt Surik after a resident carried out a terror attack at a nearby Israeli settlement in which three people were killed on September 26, 2017. (Israel Defense Forces)

The IDF imposed a closure on the West Bank village of Bayt Surik on Tuesday after one of its residents shot and killed three Israeli security officers earlier in the day at the neighboring Har Adar settlement.

According to the military, residents of the Palestinian village can enter it freely, but will “only be allowed out in humanitarian cases.”

After the attack, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that Israel would demolish the terrorist’s home and rescind the work permits held by the terrorist’s relatives.

Early Tuesday morning, the terrorist, identified as 37-year-old Nimer Mahmoud Ahmad Jamal, took a pistol out of his shirt and shot at a group of security officers who were opening the back gates of Har Adar to Palestinian laborers.

From left to right: Solomon Gavriyah, Youssef Ottman and Or Arish, Three Israelis killed in a terror attack outside the settlement of Har Adar on Tuesday, September 26, 2017 (courtesy)

One border police officer, Solomon Gavriyah, 20, and two private security guards — Youssef Ottman, 25, of the nearby Arab Israeli community of Abu Ghosh, and Or Arish, 25, of Har Adar — were killed in the attack. Another man, the settlement’s security coordinator, suffered serious gunshot wounds to his stomach and chest.

In addition to sealing off the village, the army also raided Jamal’s home, arrested his brother and sent additional troops to the area around Har Adar, which lies along the “seam line” between the West Bank and Israel proper.

The head of the IDF Central Command, Maj. Gen. Roni Numa, and the head of the West Bank Division, Brig. Gen. Eran Niv, visited the scene of the attack “in order to conduct a situational assessment,” the army said in a statement.

Palestinian laborers sit outside the Har Adar settlement after they were removed from the area by soldiers following a deadly terror attack at the entrance to the community on September 26, 2017. (Jacob Magid/Times of Israel)

Following the attack, the Palestinian laborers were allowed into Har Adar. However, a short while later, the military removed them from the settlement, an IDF spokesperson said.

Following the closure of Bayt Surik, a small riot broke out in the adjacent village of Bidu. According to the army, approximately 15 people took part in the violent protest.

Jamal, the terrorist, had previously worked in the settlement and held a valid work permit for Israeli communities located along the “seam line.”

Nimr Mahmoud Ahmed Jamal, who carried out a terror attack in the settlement of Har Adar on Tuesday, September 26, 2017 (Facebook)

In the aftermath of the attack, politicians called for the Defense Ministry to revisit the vetting process for work permits. However, Israeli settlements in the area allowed Palestinian laborers to enter freely.

The Shin Bet security service said Jamal appeared to have been suffering from “significant personal and family problems.” He also had a history of violence toward his family.

However, Jamal did not have a history of terrorist activity, which would have prevented him from receiving a work permit.

The Shin Bet noted that the terrorist’s wife left him several weeks ago and moved to Jordan, leaving him with the children.

A screenshot released by the military of a private message sent by the terrorist who carried out the Har Adar shooting to his estranged wife the morning before the attack. (Israel Defense Forces)

The IDF released a private message that he had sent to his wife, calling her a “good wife and a good mother” and apologizing for the way he treated her.

Personal and mental health problems have been common among the terrorists who committed attacks over the past two years of increased violence. However, Jamal’s age and the fact that he held a work permit set him apart from the typical assailant.

During a press conference after the attack, Police Commissioner Roni Alsheich commented on that fact, saying, “To my regret there is no profile for a terrorist.”

The police chief added: “It could just be someone who is fed up with everything and decides to take out his rage in an attack.”

Alsheich, along with Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, cast the blame ultimately on the Palestinian Authority for the attack, accusing it of incitement.

Israeli Police Commissioner Roni Alsheich speaks at the scene of a terror attack outside the Har Adar settlement near Jerusalem on September 26, 2017 (Yonatan Sindel/FLASH90)

“The Palestinian Authority continues to encourage the murder of Jews, and praises and lauds murderers. This is the central cause of the atmosphere of incitement in the [Palestinian] media and social networks, which leads to terror attacks against citizens of the State of Israel,” Liberman said in a statement after the attack.

The shooting occurred just before 7 a.m. at the rear entrance to the settlement, before the Palestinian laborers had been allowed inside.

Har Adar is located just inside the West Bank, off the main highway leading to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv. The affluent community has not been a common target for terror attacks. One exception was in October 2016, when a Border Police officer was stabbed in the arm near the settlement.

Chen Filipovitz, the head of the local council, praised his settlement’s security guards for their quick reaction.

“Our workers and security coordinator worked as needed,” Filipovitz told Channel 2 news after the attack. “It was not inside the community but at the gate where workers enter. There are hundreds of workers who enter every day to work in Har Adar and the surrounding communities.”

The Hamas terror group praised the attack, saying, “Once again Jerusalem proves that it is at the heart of the conflict with the occupation, and that there is no way to get it out of the equation of the conflict.”

The terror attack comes two years after a wave of unrest broke out, mostly in the West Bank and Jerusalem.

The violence had greatly subsided in recent months.

The pistol used in a terror attack outside the Har Adar settlement near Jerusalem on September 26, 2017. (Israel Police)

Since September 2015, some 51 Israelis, two visiting Americans, an Eritrean national, a Palestinian man and a British student have been killed in stabbing, shooting and vehicular attacks by Palestinian assailants. In that time, nearly 300 Palestinians and a Sudanese national were killed by Israeli fire, a majority of them attackers, according to authorities.

The Israeli government has blamed the terrorism and violence in part on incitement by Palestinian political and religious leaders, compounded on social media sites that glorify violence and encourage attacks.

Stuart Winer, Jacob Magid and agencies contributed to this report.

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